Despite being shrouded in secrecy information is starting to leak. The enclosed report was published in the most recent issue of the newsletter of Eastbourne Natural History and Archaeological Society. Please read and I will comment after:
“Oxford Archaeology have been awarded the contract to run the survey prior to building the Hastings/Bexhill Link Road, and are making full use of HAARG’ (Hastings Area Archaeological Group)’s volunteers. To scotch any speculation, there is no Norman boat, nor pre-battle Norman camp, nor hint of a battle at Crowhurst, but masses of other finds. There are health and safety issues with a very large site and associated use of big machinery, but it is obvious that there is evidence of a large industrial site associated with iron working, plus some Iron Age pottery, a host of linear and rectangular features, and pits. There is a massive charcoal and slag bank running into the valley, with a series of bloomeries, at least seven, along its edge. This has been surveyed, but Lynn was not allowed to show any results. Suffice it to say that it is of national significance. Most unexpectedly, around the edge of the edge of an ancient marsh there have been found masses of Mesolithic flint scatters, plus some burnt mounds, proving the sites popularity and use from deep history. Many of the flint finds are circular and indicate a single knapping episode. (We visited the site with HAARG a couple of weeks ago and the O.A. archaeologist said that they were hoping to re-assemble the chippings as had been done at Boxgrove, to reveal the original cores). No flint is native to the site, someone took the trouble to go and fetch the raw material from a distance of many miles. It seems that the site may have been semi industrial, preparing flint items to be traded. It is projected that at least 100,000 individual pieces of flint will be recovered! All finds on the extensive site are GPS registered and mapped. We were told the report is unlikely to be ready in less than five years.”
Let us start by discounting the statement that there are no Norman boats or the hint of a battle at Crowhurst. This statement cannot be justified because the road route does not encroach upon the evidence in the Crowhurst valley confirming the battlefield or go into the area where we believe the boats will be found. This statement appears to indicate some wishful thinking on behalf of someone keen to promote their own agenda.
What we know is nothing Norman has been found at Wilting yet but most interesting neither has anything Roman and what we are seeing here is the report of what appears to be the center of the Iron Age production of the Crowhurst valley area – which includes four major Roman bloomeries (Beauport Park, Forewood, Crowhurst Park and Bynes Farm). All the network of tracks from those bloomeries end at Wilting by Redgeland Wood at the port and all were controlled by the Romans.
I would suggest that we hold the front page on the issue of the top field at Wilting because we haven’t found Roman evidence on the North side of the field on the opposite side from the manor house where the Normans built the manor house. Should the pottery materialise we will then know the Romans took it over and I would be amazed if they did not.
Casper at the talk he gave in Crowhurst last week told us there is pre-invasion Saxon pottery on this site at Upper Wilting and provided a picture of a lot of pottery in a seam. It would need to be explained why this settlement is so big, why there is a massive earthworks trapezoidal eartyhworks there and how it fitted into the known archaeology of the valley and the existence of the Roman shore fort in Sandri=cock filed (clearly forgotten about by the archaeologists).
Mr Johnson was kind enough to tell us that archaeology was a science, but it is up to others to interpret what is found. What we can see is the center of industrialisation of the valley area (this is confirmed by Smyth and Jennings multitude of reports and is a surprise that it was not taken seriously earlier). It is also known that this area was occupied by the Hastingas pre Saxon times – a tribe of unknown location. Everything we are seeing tells us this valley (and port where the Romans shipped their iron ore) was occupied by the Hastingas and the port of Hastings was where the town of Hastings developed pre-invasion – hence the burnt house on the Bayeux Tapestry and no reference in Domesday.
If it were somewhere else then where was it. Not in Hastings – no pottery, no buildings pre invasion and no castle or mound or earthworks (according to Dawson who did the science of the archaeology at the castle – fewpeople seem to have read this properly). The only evidence we have is now coming out of the ground and the science of the archaeology tells us by virtue of the dated pottery. It simply is not good enough to say well we found some pre-invasion pottery and it doesn’t mean anything because there might have been a few people there who caused a big mess and left a lot of pottery. History tells us that occupation of sites that develop into towns have ancient roots and those roots are now being uncovered. That is what the pottery at Wilting is telling us.
As detailed in my book Secrets of the Norman Invasion I make the claim that the top field at Wilting was the site of the pre-invasion town of Hastings and the port was at the foot of that hill at Redgeland Wood, as detailed in an authentic document from the time called the Chronicle of Battle Abbey. There is nothing that anyone has seen or reported from Oxford Archaeology that indicates any other conclusion. The report from ENHA concludes independently that this is a site of national importance – I agree.